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Despite losses, show goes on along Main

By Judith Pannebaker

It’s hard to keep good businesses down in Bandera.

True to their word, Rick and Gwen Janes reopened the iconic Old Spanish Trail restaurant at 6 am, Friday, August 31, in time to feed a goodly portion of the thousands of tourists who poured into town for Labor Day weekend’s “Celebrate Bandera.”

Only three days before, the cowboy gathering place at 305 Main Street had sustained major smoke and water damage during a fire that roared through two businesses in the same block, totally destroyed them. A thick limestone “firewall” protected the historic building housing the OST from suffering the same fate.

Determined to open ASAP, the Janes, their employees and a cadre of volunteers began a massive clean-up campaign Tuesday, August 28 - less than 12 hours after the devastating fire.

On Wednesday, August 30, a hastily forwarded email alerted locals that the Bandera County Chamber of Commerce had scheduled a “grand re-opening” ribbon cutting for 8 am at the OST. Apparently, health and building inspectors had just given the Janes the green light to throw open their doors.

By all accounts, the restaurant was packed Friday morning with everyone chowing down on their favorite breakfast fare; the wait staff glad to be back in action, doing what comes naturally - greeting everyone with a smile and dispensing endless cups of coffee.

For those who haven’t yet made it back to one of Bandera’s most beloved eateries, the elk head still stares stately down on the polished bar and well-weathered saddles, and the chuck wagon buffet perpetually groans as it’s, loaded with home-cooked fare.

Even the John Wayne room looks the same - with one addition.
Margaret Paradee, president of the Bandera Business Association, presented the Janes with a handsome print of John Wayne to commemorate the OST’s warp speed re-opening. Not unexpectedly, the famous John Wayne Ranch Room made it through the conflagration unscathed. Even a fire wouldn’t dare disturb The Duke.

In addition, despite initial reports that Peggy Ashmore had been mulling over whether to jumpstart Shoe Biz, the second business consumed by flames, a sign proclaiming “Shoe Sale Coming Soon” on front of the burned out building indicated otherwise. Ashmore had celebrated the 20th anniversary of her popular apparel and accessory shop in April.

During the celebrate Bandera parade she was ensconced at the corner of Main and Cypress, clipboard in hand, gamely cueing up parade participants.

One woman walking past commented on Ashmore’s attire, saying, “I really like that top.”

Gesturing to the burned-out hulk of the former Shoe Biz, Ashmore dead-panned, “I got it in that shop over there.”